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No joy for LDF officers detained in SA

Ntsebeng Motsoeli

THE nightmare continues for two Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) officers who have been languishing in a South African prison since their arrest in the neighbouring country two months ago.

This after the Matatiele Magistrates’ Court on Friday postponed their bail application to 28 October 2020.

Privates Rorisang Moepi (22) and Dumile Tsoanyane (26) were arrested in Matatiele, Eastern Cape on 19 July 2020 by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) after they allegedly pursued South African rustlers who had allegedly stolen livestock in Lesotho.

They were detained on charges of illegally entering the neighbouring country, stock theft, robbery and possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition.

The South African court had initially reserved judgement to 25 September 2020 after the soldiers’ lawyers had made their submissions in their bail application on 15 September 2020.

But there was no joy for the soldiers on Friday. LDF spokesperson Captain Kelebone Mothibi yesterday told the Sunday Express that the presiding magistrate said he was not persuaded that the duo would return to South Africa for the continuation of their case if they were released on bail.

The magistrate therefore decided to postpone the matter to 28 October to allow the accused’s lawyers to make further submissions.

“The accused lawyers failed to convince the magistrate that the accused will return to South Africa to stand trial and therefore their plea was rejected,” Captain Mothibi said, adding they will now wait to see what will happen on 28 October 2020.

Privates Moepi and Tsoanyane remain in detention despite high level government talks to secure their release. Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu last month led a government delegation for talks with South African government officials aimed at securing their release.

Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro has said he is “pained” by the prolonged detention of the duo.

“We are pained by the fact that our fellow countrymen have not been released up to now,” Dr Majoro said on local radio three weeks ago.

He said the soldiers should not have been arrested in the first place because they were carrying out normal duties in terms of the joint operations by the two countries’ security agencies to combat stock theft.

 

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